Favourites from 2011

 

 

I’m going to take this time to write about my favourite reads of 2011! These are books that I have read in 2011, not books that necessarily came out in 2011, so hopefully you can gain some ideas for books you would like to read in 2012. 🙂  Don’t worry, I won’t post any spoilers!

 

First, I am going to show you the Adult Fiction stack of books.

  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  • Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
  • The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin
807 pages
Published 1996 

This is the first book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series. I loved the world building, the diversity of characters, the cast of characters that served as points of view for each chapter (i.e. one chapter is through the perspective of one character, then the next chapter is another character, etc.), intense emotions, suspense, mystery, and sheer shock at some of the sub-plots. Almost each chapter ended with a cliff hanger, but I was left waiting until the story returned to that character’s point of view. Normally this would bother me but I was so excited to see a different character in the next chapter that there was never any downtime to dwell and hope for my favourite character to pop up again. As the first book in the series, I expected it to be a bit dull in order to build up certain characters, places, and plots. However, the book was full of intense action, suspense, and even humour. My favourite characters were Daenerys and Tyrion, for Daenerys’ strength and Tyrion’s hilarious wit.

A Storm of Swords
George R.R. Martin
1128 pages
Published 2000

This is the third book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series. Like the first, it was filled with all the same elements that I loved. I actually preferred this book over A Game of Thrones because each person’s plot was more developed at this point and there were so many crossovers of detailed information that I really just found myself not knowing what would happen next. When you get to this book, you realize anything is possible. If you read the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, and like me, felt it was a bit underwhelming then please try the series again. This book is amazing.

Monkey Beach
Eden Robinson
374 pages
Published 2000

This is a story of a woman named Lisamarie Hill that makes the decision to search for her brother who is lost at sea.  The story takes place in British Columbia, Canada (where I am from) and is a blend of Haisla culture, nature, life and death. Through the search for her brother, Lisamarie begins to find herself. The book is written as a series of short glimpses into scenes, in which many are flashbacks. It is a dark novel and at times heavy on the psychological and emotional aspects, but at the same time it is so honest and raw that I can’t deny how much I loved it. It reminded me a lot of my own upbringing which I think is partly why I enjoyed it so much.

The Gargoyle
Andrew Davidson
465 pages
Published 2008

The Gargoyle is about an ex-pornstar that ends up in a car accident which badly burns him. While he is recovering in the burn ward of the hospital, a woman who claims to be named Marienne Engel from the psych ward comes into his room and tells him that they first met in medieval Germany. The writing is beautiful, the sub-plots are emotionally driven, and the main theme of the book is love. However, it isn’t a cheesy romance novel by any means. This book attempts to demonstrate love throughout different cultures, situations, and mechanisms. I almost gave up after the first 50 pages because I didn’t like the tone of the book. That obnoxious tone diminishes very quickly and only now I can reflect and see how it was necessary for making the book even better. The ending had me feeling like I could never write anything even half as good as this book. I can’t really do it justice, but this is the most recommended book from my favourites.

The Young Adult stack has the following books:

  • Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
  • The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth

 

Mermaid
Carolyn Turgeon
240 pages
Published 2011

Mermaid is a fairytale retelling of the original Little Mermaid story. Most people are familiar with the Little Mermaid, and this book is no exception. However, I really loved this book for it’s emotional tone, beautiful writing, and the sense of happiness I felt upon finishing it. It was a light, happy read that allowed my imagination to run wild. Besides, I have a soft spot for mermaids!

The Monstrumologist
Rick Yancey
434 pages
Published 2009

This was such a fun book to read! The Monstrumologist is about a doctor that studies monsters alongside his assistant Will Henry. This was an excellent Halloween read. There was plenty of graphic scenes full of gore, and you really found yourself caring about some of the characters such as Will Henry. The main monster in this book are called the Anthropophagi, which appear to be human-like in shape except with no head and their teeth are where our stomachs would be. There is a slight scientific edge to the story, which acts to make it feel more realistic, but the jargon doesn’t override the story. Any scientific terms are immediately explained to Will Henry (and the reader!) which makes it easier to concentrate on the plot. This book was full of vivid scenes, suspense, and adrenaline-inducing situations. This is the first book in a trilogy.

The Maze Runner
James Dashner
374 pages
Published 2009

This is the first book in a trilogy, and it reminded me of the book the Lord of the Flies except instead of children being on an island, they were in a compound surrounded by a maze. You get a great sense of self governance among teens as they try to solve the mysteries of the maze. The protagonist Thomas finds himself waking up in an elevator shaft-like box that drops him off into this community called the Glade. He doesn’t remember where he came from or anything about himself. The book is about him trying to find out who he is and also what the deal is with the maze and everyone in the Glade. This book was amazingly full of action and unexpectedly creepy. There were many situations where I asked myself what I would do in Thomas’ situation because I honestly did not know where the story was going, and when a decision was made, I still didn’t have a clue! The book itself was able to be almost fully resolved, but still left lots of new bits of information to be used in a second book. I was really happy with how the story turned out and I can’t wait to read the next one.

Divergent
Veronica Roth
487 pages
Published 2011

Divergent is my favourite dystopian novel of the year. The world building was the best part about this story for me. Future Chicago is divided into several factions, each with members that mutually agree on one specific character trait. For example, there is a faction that believes honesty comes above all else and another that believes knowledge comes above all else.  On Beatrice’s sixteenth Birthday, she must decide which faction to join. Does she stick with the one her family belongs in, or does she pick a different one? Her decision is ultimately what the book is about and the events that follow. This book was fast paced, exciting, and a bit frightening at times but very enjoyable.

 

Optional Questions for Readers:

  1. What were your favourite reads this past year?
  2. Are any of your favourites the same as mine?
  3. Suggestions for what I should read in 2012?

 

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